The Abstract Truth

iPhone Application Ideas

Posted by rbpasker on March 9, 2008

With the introduction of the iPhone SDK, people will be writing iPhone apps like crazy. There are a number of special features in the iPhone that make it the perfect platform for advanced mobile applications, so I’ve started brainstorming about what some of these apps might be.

There are three new technology features in the iPhone that I think will make the biggest difference in the kinds of applications people can build:

3D Accelerometers

With previous mobile devices — such as Blackberrys, Window Mobile, and Palm — users interacted with the device via the keyboard, stylus, or scrollwheel.

Using the iPhone’s 3D accelerometers, the iPhone can sense its own orientation to the earth in 3 axis and measure how fast and in what direction the iPhone is moved.

With orientation and motion detection, users will be able interact with the device by holding or moving the iPhone in a certain way. For example, when using the iPhone’s phone function, dialing and holding the phone up to one’s ear disables the touchscreen, so that the user’s cheek doesn’t accidently interact with the screen. When the user moves the phone away from his ear, the screen is again enabled.

Continuous geographic location reporting

Even without a built-in GPS, the iPhone can approximate its geographic position by using radio waves to measure its distance to surrounding cell towers. This position reporting is accurate to within a few hundred yards, and is much less accurate then GPS, which is accurate to a dozens of feet.

Using the location services, applications can change their behavior depending on where in the world they are.

The most obvious use for this feature is for location-based services, such as maps and driving directions. But location services could also for new kinds of commerce, such as distributing discount shopping coupons to consumers who are near a particular store.

Bonjour networking

This is the unsung hero of the iPhone. This technology lets Bonjour-enabled devices interact with other Bonjour-enabled devices in the immediate area without requiring a central server. Now, two iPhones can communicate with each other directly, so long as they were within WiFi range.

This feature would allow friends or family members to find each other in a crowded mall or movie theater, or send each other files and media without using email or SMS.

Other Bonjour-enabled devices include printers and webservers, so iPhones would be able to print on local printers without configuration, or browser the websites of local merchants.

New Application Designs

Rather than putting my application ideas up here on my blog, I am hosting them on Google Sites because I want to be able to add new ones and improve them. I’m Putting each application in a separate blog post so people can comment on them individually.

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5 Responses to “iPhone Application Ideas”

  1. I heard that you can’t leave an app running in the background. I haven’t looked at the SDK though. Is that true? If so, that cuts out a lot of cool ideas.

  2. rbpasker said

    yes, its true. but i think its only a matter of time.

    also, i think of these apps as what should be done, not what can.

  3. Taylor said

    Check out http://www.iphonesuggestions.com too

  4. maaak said

    I checked out the you tube intros to android and although you can only run so many apps at one time, you can run functionality in the background by setting it up as a service. It’s the user interface part that shuts down. so you can continuously play music in the background and if you open the music player again you can re bind your settings to the already running service and continue to allow control over the music once it’s started. Hope that helps.

  5. Anthony Russell said

    It would be great to have a Debate/State of the Union/Super Bowl tracker via your iPhone; so people can watch the debate or presentation and constantly vote up or down on each comment or commercial, etc… Instantaneous national feedback. call it iVote or iCount…

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